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Breeders' Cup 2017

Unbeaten Whiskey Romeo Starts at Big A

Whiskey Romeo, unbeaten in three starts as a 2-year-old, will make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela at Aqueduct Racetrack.


The Capossela, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds, also will be Whiskey Romeo’s first start in New York. After breaking his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths in September at Parx Racing, Whiskey Romeo won a pair of stakes races at Laurel Park: the six-furlong James F. Lewis III in November and the seven-furlong Marylander on December 1.


In the Marylander, Whiskey Romeo stumbled badly at the start and nearly lost his rider. The colt quickly recovered, rushing up the inside to claim the lead and maintaining a safe advantage under a drive in the stretch to win by 2 ¼ lengths. Since the Marylander, Whiskey Romeo has turned in six workouts at Palm Meadows in Florida.


“He’s a boy who definitely who wants to go to the lead, that’s for sure,” said Tony Dutrow, who trains Whiskey Romeo for Morris Bailey. “That was a good effort last time. He stumbled and recovered and was able to get the seven-furlong distance. They usually quit when that happens, so that shows he’s a horse with some quality.”


Whiskey Romeo’s sharp juvenile victories have Dutrow eager to see what Whiskey Romeo can do as a sophomore.


“This race is a starting point, and we’re excited to get him started on his 3-year-old season,” said Dutrow. “There will be plenty of opportunities for him once he gets going. I don’t think he’s limited to six furlongs by any means, but we’ll probably keep him around one turn.”


Cornelio Velasquez has picked up the mount aboard Whiskey Romeo, who drew post position 3 and was installed as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.


Whiskey Romeo’s competition includes Clawback, the 6-5 morning-line favorite. Owned by Klaravich Stable and William H. Lawrence, Clawback has won two straight on the inner track, including the Jimmy Winkfield over the Capossela’s course and distance on January 21.


In his debut, Clawback finished second, beaten a half-length by Always in a Tiz in September at Saratoga Race Course. The third-place finisher, Revolutionary, went on to win the Grade 3 Withers. Clawback also finished second in his second start, reporting home 1 ¼ lengths behind eventual Grade 3 Gotham winner Vyjack in November at Aqueduct.


After breaking his maiden by three lengths in December, Clawback registered a 5-length win in the Winkfield.


“He’s obviously a very talented horse, and he’s been surrounded by good company ever since he debuted at Saratoga,” said trainer Rick Violette, Jr. “We decided to stick with sprinting for now, although we might want to stretch him out later in the year.”


Clawback will depart from post 5 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.


“He’s a horse who can set the pace or stalk,” said Violette of Clawback. “When you’re not one dimensional, it’s an asset. If the race is loaded with speed, he can sit off, and if the race has no speed, he can take over.”


Gary Barber’s Rubysandpearls, third in the Winkfield after dueling with the winner, returned to win the Java Gold overnight stakes by a half-length in front-running fashion on February 10 at Aqueduct. He’s one of two horses entered in the Capossela by trainer David Jacobson, who will also send out Tenango, a 4 ¼-length winner of a maiden claimer on February 10 at Santa Anita. The Capossela will be Tenango’s first start for Jacobson and new owner Lawrence P. Roman.


David Cohen has the assignment aboard Rubysandpearls, 12-1, from post 7, with Mike Luzzi named to ride 30-1 Tenango from post 2.


Shadwell Stable’s Maleeh, a half-length debut winner on January 6 at Aqueduct, will face winners for the first time in the Capossela. In his lone race, Maleeh broke on top before settling in third, dropped back briefly to fourth on the far turn, commenced a rally with three-eighths to travel, and was never asked for his best when he ran down the pacesetter in the stretch.


“Irad [Ortiz] rode him very confidently,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “It was nice to see on a first-time starter. He let him fall in where he wanted to be, which was nice to see. Win or lose, it’s always good to have a good experience first time out. He had a blowout this morning (a three-furlong breeze from the gate in 37.67 over the Belmont training track) and is training well.”


Eddie Castro takes over on Maleeh, a son of top sprinting mare Gold Mover, who drew the rail post was installed at 5-1 on the morning line.


The field also includes Weekend Hideaway, the 2012 Bertram F. Bongard winner who was fifth in the Grade 2 Hutcheson on February 2 at Gulfstream Park, and Silver Morgan, who captured an optional claimer on February 16 at Laurel.




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